The 'Vision' for all children and young people with SEND-
The vision for all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is the same as for all children and young people- "That they achieve well in their early years, at school and in college; and lead happy, independent and fulfilled lives".
What is the process of asking for EHC Assessment of Needs and Plans?
Parents, young people, schools and carers can ask the local authority (LA) to carry out an assessment of need for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) if they believe provision may be required in accordance with an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), which is a statutory plan.
In essence, an LA must conduct an Education, Health and Care Assessment of Needs’ of a student where it is of the opinion that the student has or may have special educational needs and may require provision in accordance with an EHCP.
The LA may decide an EHC Assessment of Needs is not required and the needs of the student are, or can be, met within schools/ colleges own resources through a non-statutory plan managed by the school, such as a 'My Plan' or 'Additional Needs Plan'.
If the local authority decides an EHC Assessment of Needs is required it will then carry out such an assessment by liaising with professionals in education, Health and Social Care which may involve Multi Agency Meetings, individual assessments, information updates and this process will include the parents.
After the assessment is complete, the LA will consider all the available evidence, as well as the views and aspirations of children, young people and parents. Having received this full assessment information, the LA must then decide whether to issue a statutory EHCP or recommend a non-statutory local level support plan.
The LA must notify the parent, young person, carer and/ or school of the decision regarding issuing an EHCP or not.
An EHCP sets out what the needs of the student are, what the outcomes should be and what provision must be put in place to support the needs and achieve the outcomes. This must be written in draft form first, for consultation with parents or young person, and the professional advice will be detailed within the draft EHCP to show how the plan was developed (referred to as the ‘Appendices’ to the plan- section K).
The LA will also consult with parental/ young person placement preference and any other placements they feel appropriate. They send the draft EHCP to schools to consult over an appropriate place.
The draft EHCP is made 'final' once all the sections have been agreed as suitable or when agreement cannot be reached the LA may finalise the draft EHCP to give parents/ young person their rights of appeal.
When can I Appeal a decision?
You can appeal a decision your LA makes if:-
Parents. carer's or young people cannot appeal health or social care elements of an EHC Plan, but they can request a formal mediation meeting to discuss their concerns about them.
Who are Collis Mediation Ltd?
Collis Mediation Ltd are one of the country's leading independent, impartial and confidential (SEND) mediation specialist, contracted by the government, to work with local authorities, parents, carer's and young people to help clarify, narrow down and resolve disagreements about the education of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
Collis Mediation Ltd are one of the few mediation providers who are approved and listed on the Civil Mediation Council SEND Mediator register and we currently carry out 14% of all SEND Mediation in the UK.
How do I appeal an LA decision?
The LA must issue a 'Letter of Notification' giving the decision they have made and giving parents reasons why they are:
They must also notify the parents/ young people of their right to appeal. They must do this is writing and provide them with the options they have if they wish to start the appeal process. An appeal must be started within two months of the date on this letter of notification.
The Children and Families Act 2014 (s51-57) has brought in significant reforms, particularly regarding special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), regarding Mediation and Disagreement Resolution services, which must have been in place by 1st September 2014, as an alternative to the SEND First-tier Tribunal.
As part of the appeal process, there is the voluntary option for parents/ young people to first enter into mediation.
What is Mediation?
The LA and parents want to make sure the right support and help is being offered to children and young people with SEND, but people do not always agree. Mediation is a voluntary, confidential and without prejudice process, which allows the parties to openly discuss concerns about EHC decisions. Indeed the LA want to listen and hear your concerns if you think they have got their decision wrong.
SEND Mediation can be through our Connect Mediation platform, which is a form of remote mediation conducted via computer and telephone (private ad conference calls), or a comfortable, non-confrontational and non-judgemental meeting that gives you the opportunity to talk face to face about EHC decisions if you do not agree with them. Due to the confidential and without prejudice nature of mediation, you can speak freely without your discussion being used against you at a later date.
Collis Mediation impartially facilitates and chairs the meeting; and ensures everyone has the same opportunity to speak, listen and be heard. We do not take part in the decision making; however we will ask questions and explore different points of view to ensure everyone is considering what is in the best interest of the child or young person with SEND.
Mediation is a process which is consultation, not confrontation.
What happens at Mediation?
The Mediation is primarily a process where concerns and options are discussed . The process is confidential and without prejudice, meaning it is confidential to the participants of the mediation and any discussions cannot be used against someone at a later date. Indeed, a Tribunal would not take into account anything discussed at Mediation. It is an opportunity to resolve the matter outside of more formal routes.
You can be supported by anyone you wish, such as a teacher, SENDIASS, educational psychologist, SENDCo or a family member or friend. You can submit new information such as professional reports and crucial information from people who have opinions about the support the child/ young person may need. Providing new and additional evidence is always useful.
The Mediation allows everyone to discuss and consider the most appropriate way of providing access to education with the right support and ensuring the child or young person with SEND has the same learning opportunities as everyone else.
You also have the choice of a face to face mediation meeting or you can enter the mediation process through our Connect Mediation platform which is a series of private and joint conference telephone calls.
Why should I consider Mediation?
Mediation is a proven fast and effective route to resolving differences when initial discussions with the LA SEND Dept. have failed to resolve the matter.
The law says you must consider Mediation before you lodge an appeal with (SEND) First-tier Tribunal unless the dispute is only about the name or type of school, college named in the EHC Plan. Mediation is a free voluntary service for the parent, carer or young person to use.
Mediation takes less than 4 weeks to arrange as opposed to (SEND) First-tier Tribunals which take approx. 12 weeks to get to a hearing. The focus at Mediation is about ensuring needs are identified and the right support is in place, to minimise any disruption to the young person's education.
Discussing your concerns in detail allows the LA to get behind the file of paperwork and really understand the young person with SEND, and their needs. Mediation allows you to be part of the decision making when considering the options to move forward.
Actions can be agreed on the day of Mediation, not weeks after; and if you cannot agree a way forward at the Mediation, you can still appeal to (SEND) First-tier Tribunal up to one month after the Mediation ends, or two months after the original decision, whichever is the later.
Can I appeal to SEND First-tier Tribunal and also try to clarify, narrow down and attempt to resolve my disagreement?
Often, parents, carer's and young people are concerned about any delay accessing mediation may cause in their appeal. However, you can start your appeal to (SEND) First-tier Tribunal and also continue dialogue with the LA to discuss your concerns and try to resolve the disagreement whilst waiting for your appeal to be heard. This process is called Disagreement Resolution and the SEND Code of Practice issues guidance regarding this under section 11.8 and 11.13: -
11.8- "Disagreement resolution services can also be used to resolve disagreements over special educational provision throughout assessments, the drawing up of EHC plans, while waiting for Tribunal appeals and at review or during re-assessments."
11.13- "Disagreement resolution services can be used at any time, if both parties agree, including while an EHC needs assessment is being conducted, while the plan is being drawn up, after the plan is finalised or while an appeal is going through the Tribunal process."
What is Disagreement Resolution?
The LA must make available a Disagreement Resolution service for parents, carers and young people who have concerns about support; and how it is being provided. this process is voluntary for both parties to enter into.
Mediation is different to Disagreement Resolution because Mediation is used at each stage a final decision has been made, whereas the Disagreement Resolution service can be used at any time, including whilst the EHC process is taking place or waiting for an appeal hearing date. It is an early intervention opportunity to raise concern about support, whether or not there is an EHC Plan and it is used to 'clarify, narrow down and resolve' areas of disagreement.
When can I use the Disagreement Resolution service?
You can access the Disagreement Resolution service:-
How do I know Collis Mediation are suitably qualified?
Collis Mediation Ltd is one of the country's leading SEND mediation providers, currently carrying out 15% of all SEND Mediations in the UK. We have undertaken 2500+ SEND Mediations and are a ‘Individual Members, Mediation Provider Members and Accredited SEND Mediators' with the professional body 'Civil Mediation Council', ‘Approved Mediation Provider’ to the Ministry of Justice, Trustee and Professional Member of the charity Society of Mediators, we adhere to the European Code of Conduct for Mediators and the Professional Standards for Mediators..
Our SEND mediation service is delivered in accordance with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014, Children and Families Act 2014 and in line with the guidance set out in the SEND Code of Practice 2015. This means that you can be assured that our service exceeds nationally recognised standards.
We work with local authorities, familes and young people throughout the UK impartially and independently providing mediations and disagreement resolution processes every day, to assist participants in clarifying, narrowing down and resolving disagreements regarding the Education, Health and Care of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
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